November 3, 2021

5 Things We Can Learn From Migraine Education Programs

The benefits of migraine education

Find out how workplace programs help employees with migraine and provide a significant return on investment.

Migraine is the third most common disease globally, affecting 1 in 7 people. It’s also the second leading cause of disability in the world. This means that migraine has a significant impact on workplace productivity. Employers who have brought awareness to this disease, shared education and implemented changes that support people have seen incredible results. Increased productivity at work, fewer absences and happier employees translate to considerable cost savings—a tangible return on investment.

To bring these outcomes to light, we’ve rounded up important takeaways and success stories from employers who have implemented simple migraine education and management programs.

1. Employee education yields a positive return on investment.

Investing in migraine education in the workplace pays off. The benefits of increased productivity will far outweigh the investment in the education program.

As an example, Novartis ran a six-month migraine education and management program in Switzerland. The program offered education, virtual consultation and phone coaching to help employees understand the disease, reduce stigma around migraine and create a migraine-friendly work environment. This effort also included individualized telecoaching for migraine management. The cost was 920 Swiss francs (about $1,000 US) per employee for six months.

The results? The majority of participants who completed the program had a meaningful, sustained improvement in their overall health. They also reported a high level of satisfaction with the program. In addition, Novartis saw increased productivity of about 10.8 days per year per employee. This translated to a 490% positive return on the program investment.

2. Migraine education promotes productivity.

Migraine causes a significant loss in productivity, which costs employers and takes away from the bottom line. A recent study at Fujitsu showed that the productivity of 1 in 5 employees was impaired by migraine, which led to an estimated annual cost for the company of $350 million across 150,000 employees. The high prevalence of migraine is not unique to Fujitsu—other companies also face this issue.

The good news is that there is a solution. A study of three major US companies showed that an online migraine education program, which included an informational website, packets and newsletters, significantly reduced that cost in lost productivity. In six months, the companies had a 25% decrease in absences and a 32% reduction in days worked with a migraine attack. There was also an almost 10% increase in productivity during days employees worked with migraine symptoms. This means the employers saw a 34% decrease in total costs per employee with migraine.

Migraine education programs in the workplace can increase productivity by between 29% and 36%. By providing education, companies see decreased absences and increased productivity at work.

3. Migraine management keeps employees healthy.

Education brings awareness to people who may not realize that they have a headache disorder. Hence, education programs in the workplace help people seek care, get diagnosed, manage their headache disease and stay healthier. For example, in the previously mentioned Novartis study, employees saw improvement in their overall health and satisfaction at work after completing the migraine management program.

It’s also important to note that these programs offer tips that are good for all employees’ general health—not just those with migraine. Drinking water and eating regular meals are good ideas regardless of whether you have migraine or not. Migraine management programs can have a huge positive impact and make employees and workplaces healthier as a whole.

4. Workplace wellness creates a supportive work environment.

A supportive work environment is another step in boosting productivity. Expanded workplace wellness initiatives, such as gym access or health services, can decrease the frequency of migraine attacks. Education that promotes stress-relieving relaxation techniques and reduces the stigma of migraine helps build a positive, supportive work environment and boosts morale, making people more productive.

Employers can also make accommodations to reduce migraine triggers and support employees’ needs. Natural light, fresh air, comfortable seating and flexible schedules are just a start, but they can help prevent migraine attacks and give employees time and space to take care of themselves.

5. Employers are making changes—but they can do more.

As employers become aware of the impact of migraine on their employees, overall productivity and the company’s bottom line, they also realize they have the power to make changes. The examples here show us how some employers have already implemented workplace programs. This is an uplifting sign that offers hope for people with migraine and the larger community.

It’s clear that this is just the beginning. Considering how many people are affected by migraine and how disabling it is, there is room for more education, better management and a further reduction in the stigma surrounding migraine.

Through the IHS-GPAC Workplace Initiative and other advocacy programs, more companies are expanding the impact of migraine education and joining the effort to support people with migraine. We are raising awareness of the importance and benefits of migraine management programs in the workplace one study, one success story and one organization at a time—for employers and employees alike.

If you’re interested in bringing the IHS GPAC Workplace Initiative to your workplace, learn more and find helpful tools to help you make a difference on the IHS GPAC website.

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